Calabar and some communities in Cross River states are currently facing acute petroleum products scarcity following leadership tussle between factions of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).
Passengers and other commuters in the metropolis were stranded as workers, traders and other businessmen and women, as well as Christians, could not board vehicles to their various destinations.
Many of the fuel stations in the capital remained closed, while the few that have the products recorded long queues with a litre of petrol going for over 100% increase (N300 per litre).
Fuel at the black market (unauthorised selling points) sold at N400-N500 per litre. Similarly, fuel in Odukpani, Akpabuyo, Akamkpa, Biase and Yakurr local government areas was also not available.
A customer, George Akpan, said, “Last time I bought fuel was on Thursday at the cost of N145 a litre but it’s now N300-N350 or more per litre. Black marketers sold it at N350-N400 a litre.
“The scarcity of the product has already caused untold hardship on the residents of the city. It has taken a more dangerous dimension now, especially at this weekend”
Also speaking, Chief Eyo Okon said that the scarcity has affected economic activities in the state. “People were seen roaming various filling stations in the state looking for the products that are nowhere to be found or available to buy.”
Meanwhile, the fuel scarcity has spread to central and northern districts of Cross River State.
The current fuel scarcity may not be unconnected with the state leadership tussle in IPMAN.
The Chairman of IPMAN, Mr. Edet Umana, who was recently inaugurated by the National President of the association in Calabar, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, said despite a judgment of the Supreme Court confirming Okoronkwo and by extension all the state executives put in place by him, a Federal High Court in Calabar had given an order defying the Supreme Court.
Umana said the Calabar Federal High Court order of June 19, 2019, which dictated that the national officers of the party be removed, had emboldened a faction of IPMAN refusing to recognize his authority. The faction has gone around to close fuel stations in Calabar, just as tanker drivers loyal to their faction, refused to lift products at the depot.
“The judgment they secured here undermines the subsisting judgment of the Supreme Court and what we are saying is that they must obey the Supreme Court judgment. What they are doing is illegal and you can see the people are suffering,” Umana said.
An independent marketer in Calabar, Dr Okechukwu Uwazie, the Managing Director of Uwasco oil Nigeria limited, who spoke on the situation, said, “By the virtue of our position we are law abiding citizens. What is going on is that some people form a group claiming they want to hijack this oil business.
“I am surprised that if the Supreme Court has given ruling since December 14, last year in a case they took us to court. Why won’t they be law-abiding citizens? Why should they not vacate the office? Why are they not law abiding citizens? Why are they now putting this crisis?
“Mr Edet Umana is now the chairman by Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo government and the order of the Supreme Court. This is my first time of hearing that Supreme Court will give judgment and you will come to a lower court to seek for interpretation,” he said.
The situation has however led to fuel and kerosene scarcity in the state, with residents subjected to hardship and calling for the urgent intervention of the government in the matter.